While most student athletes are busy over the summer playing baseball or attending basketball or football camps, two brothers in Houston County don't mind the intensity of martial arts.
Step brothers Malcolm Mitchell and Troy Harper III are both black belts, shedding a new light on the sport in Central Georgia. "In this sport you get to meet new friends, learn some stuff like discipline, responsibility. Other sports, I would say that this is the sport I would prefer to any other sport", says Mitchell.
The two compete under the American Taekwondo Association and are both back-to-back state champs from 2012 and 2013 and have been very successful over the years, to say the least. Mitchell is a first degree black belt while Harper is a third degree.
Their instructor Shirley Bishop explains, "Oh they're very good students. They're very disciplined. They'll do what you want them to do, but then when you don't tell them what to do, they just know what to do."
In early June, the younger Malcolm placed first in sparring at the Southeast District championships in Atlanta. His older brother Troy placed second in sparring but is ranked in the top ten in the world for forms and sparring and has a chance to compete for a number one spot at the world championships next month in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Harper says, "Since it's my first year actually being in the top 10, it's kind of exciting. I've already competed with most of the people in the top 10, so I kind of know what my competition's going to be. But I'm still excited because they might step their game up while they're at practice. And hopefully I can step mine up, too."
It's that kind of confidence and self motivation that push these brothers to higher heights.
"Even if they are not here, they practice at their house", says Bishop. "That's what they do. They eat and sleep with Taekwondo."
Mitchell is a student at Perry Middle School and Harper attends Veterans. Harper again is training for the World Championships in July.